White Dove of the Desert

Following are excerpts from an article we posted in January 2016. Hope you enjoy it!

About 10 miles south of Tucson, Arizona you will find the “White Dove of the Desert” also known as the Mission San Xavier del Bac. This magnificent Spanish mission was completed in 1797. The first Spanish missionary, Father Eusebio Kino, arrived at the site in 1692. Throughout the years the location has been part of New Spain, Mexico, and finally a part of the U.S. after the Gadsen Purchase of 1854.

When you enter the church you cannot help but be amazed by the incredible amount of 18th century statuary and murals. The impact varies for everyone who walks the interior of this powerfully spiritual place. Candles are always lit and displayed. A shrine to St Francis is a prominent feature and one of solemn devotion. The edifice is still a functioning Catholic Church that primarily serves the Tohono O’odham tribe, formerly known as the Papago.

The San Xavier website is packed with information for your visit planning assistance.

Dominating the desert

The awesome and iconic Saguaro cactus is truly the dominant feature of the Sonoran Desert in the Southwest. The Saguaro has become the symbol of all things desert. The towering cacti live to be 250 years old and older. They don’t start to grow their “arms” until they are at least 75 years old!

 

 

 

 

 

The Saguaro National Park has two sections on either side of Tucson, Arizona.  Both sections offer unbelievable opportunities to enjoy the magnificent and thriving desert environments. Walking trails and scenic roads give ample opportunities to get up close and personal with the Saguaro and countless other species of desert plants. A trip to the Saguaro National Park should be on everyone’s travel itinerary. We’ll be back to Tucson and the desert once our travel is possible.

When Roadtirement meets Indiana’s shutdown order

Sher and I have been in a stay at home situation since we got back a month or so early from our usual stint as Winter Texans. Since our return to Indiana on February 25th we have been really in a stay at home mode courtesy of the COVID-19 pandemic. With our ages and my “underlying health issues” we have to be careful. So we thought we’d share some of what makes up Roadtirement’s self-isolation environment. What do we have,  how do we live day to day, and what’s some of the stuff we’re doing when we can’t go to the casinos, live theater or set up and sell at festivals and flea markets.

Pictured is a very nice and vintage hiking trails map from Tucson. The topographic map is dated 1967 and was published by the Southern Arizona Hiking Club. The map centers around Mt. Lemmon, north east of Tucson, in the Santa Catalina Range.  Mt. Lemmon is a very popular recreation area with miles of trails in the rugged terrain of the mountains.

Details of Mt. Lemmon w/trails

The map legend

We got this map when we were visiting Tucson a few years ago. I spotted it in a listing for an estate sale and was the lucky bidder. I did my graduate work at the University of Arizona in the early 70s and made many of the 2 hour trips from Tucson to the top. That sparked my interest in the map that now lives on our living room wall.

Do you have anything in your house or RV that reminds you of experiences from decades ago?

Saguaro National Park in Arizona

Sher and I are not traveling now due to coronavirus, so we thought we’d share some of our BC pictures with you. (BC = before COVID-19)

One of my favorite places on Earth is the Sonoran Desert in Arizona. This photo was taken in the Western Mountain District a few minutes before sunset. The stunning landscape is dotted with the magnificent saguaro cacti.

We shared conversation with Alan Cottrill, master sculptor

Alan Cottrill, left, with Maj inside Alan's Studio and Gallery

Alan Cottrill, left, with Maj inside Alan’s Studio and Gallery

As soon as we had introduced ourselves Alan immediately noticed the small leather medicine bag that I wore around my neck. Understanding proper protocol he did not ask what was carried within. I knew that Sher and I were in for a treat interacting with this gifted and learned sculptor.

Alan graciously shared with me his history that led to his work in the 3D world of sculpture. From an international multi-millionaire businessman at 30 to a starving artist in New York City at 40, he explained how each came about. Alan really lit up when he recounted the “first time” he “touched clay”. Thus the paint brush was put aside and his true genius showed itself.

Small version with photo of final scupture in place

Small version with photo of final scupture in place

Red Cloud study board

Red Cloud study board

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I was fascinated to learn that Alan spends so much time learning everything he can about the person who will be featured in his work. A bust of George Armstrong Custer is displayed on the first floor of the Gallery. A duplicate is now at West Point. Alan spent a lot of research time on the photos, life and times of Custer. Then I noticed a large board on an easel with mutiple photos and a book about Red Cloud, the famed Ogala Souix War leader. Thus I was able to see the beginings of what will in the future be another fine sculpture by Alan Cottrill.

His Gallery in Zanesville, Ohio is filled with hundreds of his works. His early paintings are also displayed. He shared that his favorite works are the two sarcophagi for his wife and himself. His children’s faces adorn the sides of each, and never will you see a more poignant depiction of love of spouse and family.

A trip to Zanesville is in order for anyone who loves art. This is the Gallery website.

The Cottrill sarcophagi

The Cottrill sarcophagi

We could visit Boothill Graveyard in Tombstone

IMG_3915After being disappointed with the town of Tombstone (see article here) I decided to see if we could park at the lot next to the Boothill Graveyard. Boothill is now on the National Register of Historic places. According to a plaque the graveyard was restored by Tombstone residents in the 1920’s.

The final resting place of some of Tombstone’s most colorful people is well maintained now. All of the graves look pretty much the same: a pile of rocks and simple wood markers. A few graves have fencing. The entrance to the graveyard is through a souvenir shop. They request a $3 “donation” for a flyer with the grave locations marked.

This was an interesting attraction. The graveyard is portrayed as being authentic, however you have to wonder about the spacing of the graves. The spacing is almost too perfect. The sayings on some of the graves are pretty humorous.

We were able to park in the lot, however any rig over 25′ will not be able to park here. I was able to find a spot and back in ok.IMG_3928

           

Tombstone: Too tough to die but hard to visit in an RV

Main street blocked off

Main street blocked off

Sher and I had planned on a visit to the ‘historic’ town of Tombstone since we were in Tucson. We decided to drive there on our way back east.

Well, we were disappointed. There was literally no parking available anywhere close to the main street. Signage directed us to an RV and trailer parking lot that was at the bottom of a very steep hill. This was too steep of a climb. The main street was blocked off to traffic so we could not get a chance to even drive by ‘the sights’.

All of the sites either charged admission or were simply a place to spend your money, either food, drinks, or merchandise. The famed OK Corral was actually walled in with bleachers for the audience. Again admission charged. The town we felt has morphed into a tourist trap.

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The antique store

We did find some street parking (free) across from an antique store a few blocks away from the main street area. It had some interesting things that were priced pretty high, as you would expect.

Perhaps on an off day you can find parking. However with any RV or trailer combo of any length parking will be a problem unless you park in the lower level at the bottom of the hill. Tombstone may be fun for some, but for us the lack of close parking and the commercialism just turned us off.

Sunset over the Sonoran desert

We took a drive to the Tucson Mountain District of the Saguaro National Park one evening. It was a visual delight to watch the desert turn from the bright sunlight of the day into the subdued lighting of dusk followed by yet another night.

One by one the cacti lose the sun's warmth

One by one the cacti lose the sun’s warmth

Shadows begin to lengthen

Shadows begin to lengthen

A beautiful blaze of the day's last light

A beautiful blaze of the day’s last light

Dusk arrives

Dusk arrives

Tucson’s fabulous Gem, Mineral, Fossil and Jewelry Show

Cut and polished, packed and ready to go

Cut and polished, packed and ready to go

Every year the city of Tucson hosts the premier showcase for dealers displaying and selling gems, minerals, fossils and jewelry. The 2016 show has 43 different locations around town. Over 4000 different vendors ship in specimens from literally every continent on earth. You will find acres of huge temporary buildings, tents, canopies and awnings set up in set areas around town. Free shuttles provide transportation from park and go lots.

If it has to do with minerals, gems, fossils or jewelry you will find it. Towering six foot tall amethyst filled geodes are found everywhere. Slabs of limestone the size of sheets of plywood are seen filled with amazing trilobite fossils. Any mineral crystal known to man is available for purchase.

Sher and I have been out several times this past week.We have not yet seen a quarter of the vendors or sites. While some dealers only sell wholesale to other businesses, most of the vendors will sell retail to the public. Bring some cash because you will find something you can’t live without!

Tons of jewelry, beads and other neat stuff

Tons of jewelry, beads and other neat stuff

From India, solid naturally shaped river rocks

From India, solid naturally shaped river rocks

Discovering the Coronado National Forest

Sher and I were driving in our motorhome on the far east side of Tucson, following Tanque Verde Road, one of the main east-west routes. As we approached the foothills of the Rincon Montains the road became Reddington Road. We kept on driving enjoying looking at the houses, horse ranches and the scenery.

The dirt road at its widest

The dirt road at its widest

The road narrowed but I kept on, and soon there was a sign for curves, one of which was a 5MPH curve warning. This curve led to a steep, steep climb. At this point turning around was not an option.

The next thing we saw was a sign for the Coronado National Forest and the change from paved road to dirt/gravel road. No way to turn around, and no idea what was ahead. When a small truck came down the road towards us I flagged the vehicle down. The lady inside informed me that less than a mile up the road was a parking area where we could trun around. Whew!

We got turned around and stopped to get out and admire the view. Hundreds of Saguaro cacti covered the landscape. What an impressive sight they were! We were in but a small portion of the 1.78 million acres of the Coronado National Forest which covers portions of Arizona and New Mexico.

Oh, and by the way, I won’t head out on a road leading into the mountains again without doing some research!

Lots of Saguaro

Lots of Saguaro

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